Day 2 of my trip continued in Chicago, Illinois. It was a Saturday, but there was no game planned for today. We were just going to sight see and hang out. Our day started with some travel troubles thanks to the literal zero availability of hotels thanks to college graduations and half marathons being run. After that though, we were off for a bike tour of Chicago.
It was very nice, and I highly recommend it. You get to see stuff you don’t normally see in the city. Here’s a shameless plug: it was through Bobby’s Bike Hike, and it was great. Here was our tour guide:
His name was Eddy, and he was very knowledgeable and funny. And here’s a pretty decent look at the Chicago skyline that you get on the tour:
(For the record, they made us wear that stuff.)
We did some more sightseeing, and subsequently passed out early that night. Now, to the main point, it was now Sunday, and it was game time. I started the day by taking the “El” up to Wrigley:
And here I am at the ticket booth:
Just a heads up – if you plan to go to Wrigley and do BP, you need a ticket for the bleachers. I, however, had a ticket for the area behind third base. So, I figured since I was on vacation, I’d splurge and buy a bleacher seat so I could take in BP. I didn’t want to risk my streak (22 games, now) on something silly like that:
We took our spot by Gate D, this way when I ran inside I could get over to the bleachers before the bleacher crowd:
You see, if you have a bleacher ticket, you *must* enter by the bleacher gate, in center field. Those seats are first come first serve, so people start lining up there as early as 8 am, depending on who they play. I however, had a seating bowl ticket. So I simply would scan that,
walk in run in (who are we kidding), go towards the bleacher entrance inside the park, show them my bleacher seat, and be on my own before the crowd came. Make sense? Good.
Across the street, I had a good view of the “Rooftop” seating you can buy:
It’d be awesome to sit there for a game, but I’d hate to miss batting practice.
That is, unless, I spent it here:
Given that Wrigley is quite small in the outfield seating area, home runs can land out on the street. After reading other blogs, this area usually seemed crowded. But as you can see in the picture above, I was pretty much the only one waiting for a homer. Just to double check, I made sure the Cubs were actually hitting:
And they were. I tried calling to players to chuck one over the seats onto the street (how awesome would that be), but whoever was in right field was being a crab-ass. Here’s another view of this area to give you a better visual:
I think the gate to look in is a really cool idea. I loved Wrigley already. The neighborhood surrounding it is great as well; it really has a “baseball-town” type feel to it. I didn’t want to keep Natalie waiting at the gate long, so I went back on line and eventually, I ran inside. When I got to the bleacher entrance, the way they were talking made it seem like I couldn’t enter there. There were 2 guys in front of me, and they got stopped by a security guard:
“Are you guys in that Captain Morgan party?”
“Yea we just got separated.”
“Ok, go ahead.”
The guard looked at me and said, “You too, sir?”
I played dumb and said “Yup, I’m sorry sir.” And that was that. I was in.
I ran through the back hallway/alley behind the right field wall, and passed a batting cage that was under the seats:
David Wright was right in front of me, but he kept moving so I couldn’t grab a good shot. Eventually, I emerged from the tunnels and this was my view:
Here was the view to my right:
Seriously, I loved it.
I moved down to the front row and my view to the left looked like this:
See that ball on the cage? I was figuring out how to grab that. The section directly above that is part of the Budweiser Patio, which is similar to the Party City Deck at Citi Field. It’s for parties only. Phooey.
I also liked that the park had all sorts of interesting angles and curves, such as this:
I moved over to right center, and tried my luck here:
Anthony Rizzo hit two shots that came right towards me, but they landed higher than I was, and since the bleachers are all concrete and metal seats, the ball bounced right back onto the field. The players weren’t tossing up either; even though I was the only one who was calling their names.
I headed over to left for the remaining five minutes of Cubs BP:
And then they ran off the field. Not the best start to the game, but I threw on my R.A. Dickey Mets jersey, making me literally the ONLY Met fan in the bleachers. I wasn’t worried.
About five minutes (if that) into Mets BP, I walked over towards coach Tom Goodwin, and he noticed my Mets jersey, and sailed a long toss all the way to me in the back row, and it fell short a bit… but I caught it. Not only was it my first ball of the day, it was the 100th of my life! Here she is in all its glory:
And a special thanks to Mr. Goodwin. I figured now that they recognized me, any chance of a toss-up there was over. So I slowly made my way around to the other foul pole, and anything that was hit to me was fair game. One thing I will say though, Cubs fans were probably the nicest fans I’ve encountered so far. All of them were friendly, asked me why I was out in Chicago, commented on my trip, and half of them were trying to get me a ball! They kept remarking how I was the only Met fan out there, yet they ignored me. I told them simply, “What do you expect?”
I gave up on left field and headed to right center. The Mets there definitely heard me, but they hooked up younger kids instead (which is fine):
One funny thing I can remember was these two kids on the railing. They kept yelling to Jeremy Hefner, like, non-stop. Eventually, he turned around and yelled “WHAT!!!!!” and the kids just laughed. Kinda funny, but annoying. I tried my luck over here:
…and got Scott Rice to toss me my second ball of the day.
Here’s a view of the famous Wrigley Ivy:
Don’t tell anyone, but shhhhh: I took a piece:
BP was over, and I was satisfied. I missed out on a bunch of homers, but that was mainly part to inexperience at Wrigley. Bad bounces. The usual. I continued my stadium tour, and figured I’d start in the left field bleachers, wrap around, and start inside the seating bowl since my seats were in left/third base. Here’s the view looking out onto Waveland Avenue:
There’s a staircase that goes down into the seating bowl:
…but you need to show your ticket. Later, when I went this way, the guard was all set to shoo me away, but I shut her up pretty quick with my other ticket (God, that feeling is great, isn’t it?). I continued around left to center via this passageway:
How cool is that? Plus, if a homer ever lands here (which happened in BP a bunch), you have plenty of room to run for it. I got to the area by the center field scoreboard and made my way through the little passageway they had built:
…and continued up the stairs:
…past the TV camera station…
Until I reached the scoreboard area:
One of the most historic places in sports. One thing I did like about this area was these:
See those ledges without fencing? You’re allowed to stand/sit there during the game. Imagine doing that at Yankee Stadium? Haha. No, you can’t. Because you need permission to breathe there.
I made my way back to the seating bowl, and tried for a warm-up ball, but the ushers wouldn’t let me down even though I had a 100-level ticket. Whatever. I kept walking through the unusual staircase/ramp up to the higher levers:
To the second deck, which is built much differently than newer stadiums:
I love that simple scoreboard there.
We continued up another ramp to the “500 level”:
Here’s another example of the different architecture: you won’t see anything built like this anymore:
Eventually, I reached the top:
And like usual, my panorama photo:
Wrigley verdict: A++. Awesome.
Here I am with Natalie:
Lovely. On the way down, we stopped at a patio-type area in the back of the stadium. Here it is:
Kind of nice, I guess. It also overlooks the street below, which was still buzzing. There was definitely a great stadium atmosphere going on. I headed to right field in the upper deck to get a better shot of the rooftop seating:
Finally, it was time for the game. Our seats were pretty good, but came for a pretty penny:
I figured I’ll never know when I’ll be back, so go big or go home. Here’s another thing you may notice in the next photo:
See the pitchers towards the bottom? That’s where the bullpen is. There are only a few ballparks that are left that have foul area bullpens. Off the top of my head, Wrigley, O.co coliseum, Tropicana Field, and AT & T Park come to mind to name a few. The visitor’s bullpen is even tighter than the Cubs ones.
Later, it was the 7th inning, and I got a picture of the unique Wrigley scoreboard:
Wrigley is one of the last parks to have an original hand-turned scoreboard. Unlike Fenway Park, the scoreboard at Wrigley is mounted above the center field bleachers, rather than at ground level. Then, it was time for the famous 7th inning stretch:
They have a long time tradition of singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Apparently, this began when Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray arrived in 1982 and it has remained a Wrigley Field tradition (hence his silhouette above the broadcast booth). Usually, former players, Chicago athletes, and celebrities come to sing the well honored tradition. Today there was a former Cub singing, but I don’t remember who. It was a good time.
The game was entertaining. Cubs pitcher Travis Wood hit a home run, but the Mets came back late to win.
I headed down to the field after the game for an attempt at ball #3:
…but all the players walked off without acknowledging anyone. I took my usual “stadium picture”:
This was #10. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Target Field, Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, and now Wrigley. I took another shot with Natalie:
…and began to brave the mass crowds in the concourse:
I couldn’t write about Wrigley Field without mentioning the bathroom troughs, but… I’ll save you the picture. Unique experience. I didn’t take a picture. Whipping out a camera in a bathroom full of guys peeing can get…well… combative.
Once I got outside, I realized it wouldn’t be a trip to Wrigley without a picture of the famous marquee:
I had a picture of me in front of it, but the sun was in my eyes and I looked ridiculous.
I also realized I never saw one entire side pre-game, so we exited that way. Here’s a statue of Ernie Banks:
And the corner of left field:
…and eventually made it to the most famous intersection in baseball, Waveland and Sheffield:
And here I am in front:
Would have been an awesome picture, if not for the garbage can in the way. Also, the Cubs but up a white flag with a W for a win, and blue flag with an L for a loss, a tradition that has been around since P.K. Wrigley himself was around in 1937.
I also saw this marquee at a bar next door:
Wood was the Cub who started the game. How clever. And that was that. Awesome, awesome, AWESOME day at Wrigley. US Cellular next!
- 2 balls at this game
- 101 career balls
- 23 straight MLB games with a ball